There's no such thing as Middle Child Syndrome

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

January 20 2017

While youngest siblings are the funniest, middle children will tell you they are hard done by. 

As any middle child will tell you, they feel overlooked, have to work harder and are always compared to their older and younger siblings.

However, one expert continues to rain on their parade saying there’s no such thing as middle child syndrome.

In the book You’re a Better Parent Than You Think, Dr Ray Guarendi defines Middle Child Syndrome as “feelings of isolation, of not belonging. Enjoying neither the parental attention and expectations given to the eldest, nor the relaxed parental standards experienced by the youngest, the middle child is supposedly lost in the shuffle, caught in between with no unique position of his own.”

Speaking to Business Insider, Dr Catherine Salmon, a psychology professor at the University of Redlands in California and co-author of the book The Secret Power of Middle Children says this isn't true, and TV shows like The Brady Bunch and 8 Simple Rules, which portray middle children as being hard done by, are to blame. 

“Those cases then become very vivid in people’s minds… and suddenly they assume that’s the way it is for everything,” Salmon said.

She adds: “There’s a perception that the first born gets all the attention, and babies get a lot of attention, so I think there’s a general perception that it has to be that way,” she said. “There’s a natural tendency to think, if they’re in the middle, then they’re not remarkable, so they’re not going to stand out, and they’re going to get ignored.”

But it isn’t all bad for middleborns, who Salmon says are great negotiators, friends and partners.

“I think that’s why they tend to be very successful with their friendships, and very successful with their marriages, but that probably translates also into how they manage things in the business world too."